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    Simple / Progressive present/past

    When using simple present/past we usually refer to somthing that takes place in a certain pattern or something, that is the general truth, like for example:

    "I ride my bike to work every day" or "I like cheese"

    Progressive present/past is used when referring to something that is happening as we speak or with ioslated incidents, for example:

    "I'm watching football" (right now) or "Yesterday, Mary was playing is the sand box".

    But what about these following sentences?

    Yesterday I went / was going for a run.
    Last wednesday, I drove / was driving my child to soccer practice.

    Following the rules above, we should use progressive past since the incidences are isolated. Yet, wouldn't the correct alternative be single past? If so, can anyone explain to me: How come?

    Thank you and have a nice day!

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    Re: Simple / Progressive present/past

    Last wednesday, I drove / was driving my child to soccer practice.


    (1) Tom: What did you do last Wednesday?

    Mona: Not much! I drove my child to soccer practice; I bought a dress for

    next week's party; and I cooked dinner for my husband's boss. So what did

    you do last Wednesday?

    (2) Alice: Did you hear about the terrible fire last Wednesday?

    Joe: I certainly did!

    Alice: I was cooking lunch when I heard fire truck sirens, so I ran to the window and

    saw the smoke in the distance. How did you get the news?

    Joe: Well, last Wednesday, I was driving my child to soccer practice when my

    cellphone rang. Of course, I pulled the car over to the side and parked. Then I

    answered. It was my secretary telling me about the big fire. I then continued my drive

    to the soccer field, where I dropped off my child. I then drove back to my office, which

    was only one block from the big fire.

  1. Bennevis's Avatar
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    Re: Simple / Progressive present/past

    Yesterday I went / was going for a run.
    Last Wednesday, I drove / was driving my child to soccer practice.

    The best way to look at it is by asking yourself whether something took place while you were doing it. For example:

    Yesterday I was going (to the park) for a run, when all of a sudden I stumbled upon my former classmate.
    Last Wednesday, I was driving my child to soccer practice, when a voice told me to slow down.

    Here are some examples of this kind of thinking:

    I was actually putting my shoe back on, while trying to decide where I was going to eat breakfast, when all of a sudden I heard him calling up the stairs.
    Ross O'Carroll-Kelly - The Irish Times - Sat, May 14, 2011

    Then on the way home I was mooching along, when all of a sudden my wing man spooked and shot across the road.
    Hovis' Friday diary - Horse and Hound Forums

    But if you want to let someone know that you did something yesterday in general, it's not likely you'll need the continuous tense.

    Yesterday I went for a run. Then I lifted weights. Later on I played soccer.
    Last Wednesday I drove my child to soccer practice. But this time we'll go there by bus.

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    Re: Simple / Progressive present/past

    With the simple past, we generally see the action as a completed whole. I worked in the garden yesterday - that is what I did - I began to work, I worked, andIi stopped working.

    With a past progressive, we generally emphasise the duration of the action - I was working in the garden yesterday - at any point during yesterday, you could have seen me at work.

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